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Pedestrian Accidents: Car Accident Lawyers Discuss “Right of Way”

Pedestrian accidents are alarmingly common in Vancouver, and are often fatal. As car accident lawyers who help injured pedestrians with ICBC claims, we know that pedestrian accidents happen because drivers and pedestrians are not aware of (or do not follow) the rules relating to the right of way. Safe pedestrian crossing relies on the proper exercise of judgment by both pedestrians and drivers. 


Here is what you need to know about the right of way to avoid pedestrian accidents. 


1. A pedestrian’s right of way is not absolute

Pedestrians often mistakenly believe that they have an absolute right of way when crossing the road in a crosswalk. While technically it is true that pedestrians have the right of way when crossing in a crosswalk, the reality is that all users of the road – pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers – are obligated to exercise due care for their own safety and the safety of others. That means that even if a pedestrian has the right of way, he or she cannot exercise that right with impunity. 


2. BC’s Motor Vehicle Act sets out “right of way” rules 

In British Columbia, the Motor Vehicle Act sets out the responsibilities of both drivers and pedestrians: 

  • When a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, s. 179 of the Motor Vehicle Act applies. Although a driver is required to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the law states that a pedestrian must not leave a curb or other “place of safety” and walk or run into the path of a moving vehicle “that is so close it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way”. This is the point we touched on above – a pedestrian is not entitled to step off the curb into a crosswalk, assuming that oncoming traffic will notice and stop.
  • The right of way rule is different if a pedestrian is attempting to cross outside of a crosswalk. If a pedestrian is crossing at a point other than a crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield the right of way to vehicles: s. 180 of the Motor Vehicle Act.
  • In all situations, vehicle drivers have an ongoing obligation to be vigilant in looking for pedestrians. The law requires drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian: s. 181 of the Motor Vehicle Act. Drivers must keep a proper lookout for people on foot, yield the right of way as required by law, and in some circumstances, prevent collisions through anticipation of what might happen.


3. Pedestrian accidents: ICBC claims and fault 

The main factors that influence the determination of fault (also called “liability”) are:

  • Whether the pedestrian acted reasonably and rationally;
  • Whether the pedestrian and driver maintained a proper look out; and
  • Whether the pedestrian was crossing at a crosswalk.

That being said, the division of fault for a pedestrian accident always depends on the facts. Other factors such as the weather, road conditions, what colour the pedestrian was wearing may influence the determination of fault. 


Generally speaking, if a pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk is struck by a vehicle, the driver of the vehicle will be found at least partly (if not entirely) at fault for the car accident. On the other hand, if a pedestrian:

  • walks or runs into the path of a vehicle where the vehicle is “so close” that it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way; 
  • crosses at other than a crosswalk; and/or
  • fails to observe due care for their own safety or the safety of others,  then the pedestrian will likely bear some or all of the responsibility for the resulting car/pedestrian accident. ICBC claims lawyers can help injured pedestrians build a case against the driver in these situations.


4. Pedestrian accidents: ICBC claims (Part 7 and tort)

A pedestrian injured by a BC motorist is entitled to Accident Benefits (also known as “Part 7” or “no-fault” benefits) to cover medical and rehabilitation costs up to a maximum of $150,000, even if the pedestrian is partly to blame for the car accident. Lawyers with experience handling pedestrian accidents can assist with Part 7 ICBC claims. 


Pedestrian accidents can in many cases lead to a claim for monetary compensation for injuries, but only to the degree that the pedestrian is not at fault. Put another way, even if the pedestrian shares some of the responsibility for the accident, the pedestrian is still entitled to claim for compensation for the injuries sustained. The team of car accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP frequently help injured pedestrians obtain fair settlement for pain and suffering, special damages (out of pocket expenses), wage loss, the cost of future care expenses, and the future loss of earning capacity.

Our car accident lawyers know how to help following pedestrian accidents
If you are a pedestrian who has been injured in a car accident, lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP offer a free initial consultation to help you determine whether you have a case and whether you want to hire us to resolve it. Call us toll-free at 1-855-852-5100 (24 hours) to make an appointment at one of our 13 convenient locations throughout the Lower Mainland including: Vancouver, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Langley, Maple Ridge and Surrey. If you are injured and cannot come to us, just let us know, and we can arrange to meet you in your home or in the hospital.

Legal Guidance & More, from Injury to Recovery
Bronson Jones & Company LLP exclusively represents victims of motor vehicle accidents, and that’s all we do! Unlike other law firms which deal with everything from dog bites to divorce, Bronson Jones has built more than 30 years of trial experience and in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in motor vehicle accidents.

We’ve also developed an extensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Additionally, such reports may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.

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